Sunday, October 31, 2010

The potential environmental costs of space tourism

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Caught part of the Radio 4 program Material World last Thurs on the potential impact of space tourism, with soot pollution of the stratosphere being a key culprit. Given that the development of space tourism looks set to accelerate, this research and debate is very important.

The American Geophysical Union is warning that the environmental cost of space tourism will be greater than the $200,000 price tag passengers will be paying to travel on the Virgin Galactic spaceship when voyages begin in 2012. Marty Ross of non-profit research organisation The Aerospace Corporation in California and key author of the AGU's paper, explains why.

More here:

Being positive about feminism: a new academic study - Philobiblon

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Being positive about feminism: a new academic study - Philobiblon

Bristol business supports elected mayor as consultation ends | Bristol24-7

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This may well be because they see it as it is - more power for business rather than more power for local people...not that I'm at all happy with Bristol City Council, the councils around it and the way they work (or rather dont work) together and with local people.

Bristol business supports elected mayor as consultation ends Bristol24-7

86% of the 200 GWE Business West members who responded to a survey said they favoured having an elected mayor. On Nov 16 Bristol City Council makes a decision on what they favour - I cant see the council voting for its power to be removed can you?

South Bristol to be 'transformed' by new Avon group | Bristol24-7

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South Bristol to be 'transformed' by new Avon group Bristol24-7

I cant agree with this assertion from Ned Cussen of King Sturge - this new organisation will be dominated by business whose primary motivation is profit and not people and communities. Bristol City Council Leader Barbara Janke feels this is a devolution of power but where is the power for people in this this move??

BBC - Nature UK - Get invovled in nature on the web

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BBC - Nature UK - Get invovled in nature on the web

The web offers some great ways you can talk to other nature lovers, share experiences and find answers to questions, all from the comfort of your computer (or even mobile phone). A warning though – they can become very addictive!...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Several green spaces petitions handed in and applauded again and again

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PEOPLE opposed to plans to sell off swathes of green space across Bristol packed into the Council House last night to hand in petitions filled with thousands of signatures.

Residents from across the city received round after round of applause as they each presented bulky petitions to councillors and delivered passionate speeches at the end of a five-month consultation into the project. Dog walkers, boy scouts and brownies were among those who united to vent their anger at the proposals to sell 90 acres of parkland at a meeting of Bristol City Council's cabinet. Residents attacked plans to sell green space they claimed was regularly used for recreational and sporting activities or as a tranquil getaway from hectic city life...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

THE Conservatives have tabled a motion calling for the £87 million plan to sell off up to 62 green spaces across Bristol to be scrapped.

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Its not often that I have cause to praise the Conservative Party in Bristol but on this occasion I have to say well done to them for changing their minds and calling for the councils plans to sell green spaces to be abandoned, especially given the strength of the widespread public opposition. I hope that Labour and maybe even some Lib Dems will support the Tories on this - and respect local people's wishes.

THE Conservatives have tabled a motion calling for the £87 million plan to sell off up to 62 green spaces across Bristol to be scrapped.

The group has also launched an online petition for people to support the motion [click here to sign]

Mark Weston (Henbury, Conservative) said: "Public consultation has clearly shown that Bristolians simply do not want to lose any more of their recreational space.
"The area green space plans are fundamentally dishonest, in that many potential plots of land suggested for sale are not, as previously promised, of low value or quality.
"This version of the strategy has also proved itself to be extremely divisive, in that it requires some wards in the city to make land sacrifices not shared by others."

Labour group leader Helen Holland told the Evening Post she didn't want to pre-empt her group's response to the Tory motion, but she criticised the consultation process.
She said: "The consultation has been flawed, with a lack of information.
"The one thing you need to do if you want major change is have absolute transparency."

Tess Green (Southville, Green) said: "The Green Party has always opposed selling any green space which is valued by local people, although we could see the logic of selling off space that is not valued in order to improve green space more generally.
"The voice of local people has been very strong on this issue and needs to be taken seriously."

New energy and environment blog

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Interesting new blog on energy and the environment has just started up. Check it out here:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How departments dealing with energy, climate change and environment fared in the spending review

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Overall conclusion [Energy and Climate Change]: Chris Huhne just about passes his CSR test, but won’t be counting any green chickens yet.

Overall conclusion [Environment, Food, Rural Affairs]: outright failure. Spelman was already the weakest Minister in the pack before the Comprehensive Spending Review, and emerges from it as little more than the Secretary of State for Degreening, Intensive Agriculture and Rising Floodwaters.

BBC News - Caroline Lucas: 'Brussels more efficient than Westminster'

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BBC News - Caroline Lucas: 'Brussels more efficient than Westminster'

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Flog the green spaces of the poor, give the money to the rich?

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More on council plans to flog parks and green spaces in poorer areas - and raise money that could be spent in richer areas! Good for Clifton and Cabot that their green spaces wont be sold but in that case cant Hartcliffe, Southmead, Brislington, Stockwood etc be treated the same?

Not a single plot of land in either Cabot or Clifton has been put forward for sale, but they have one of the longest lists of parks that could be improved...

CASTLE Park in the city centre could be revamped as part of the green spaces plan, with a new footbridge crossing the River Avon.

Cuts threat to public order, public safety, public security

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Spending cuts on this scale, at this pace, and of this nature, threaten many aspects of public life - not least public order, safety and security...

BBC News - Spending Review: Police 'not ready for budget cuts'

A police watchdog says it has "real concern" whether police authorities can manage cuts in the Spending Review.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said less than one in five of the bodies it examined were ready to help forces cut effectively.
The Home Office will cut police funding by 20% over four years, with chief constables warning of job losses...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Simon Hughes - add action to your words and make change on housing benefit cuts happen

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Simon Hughes' words on housing benefit changes - 'harsh and draconian' - are right but I want to see him and others like him back their words with actions. A roof over your head is a basic need and the changes risk significantly increasing homelessness - on top of all the extra risk of a lot more unemployment, cuts in councils services and so on...

Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes is threatening a backbench rebellion over planned cuts to housing benefit.

The party's deputy leader told Channel 4 News some of the proposals were "harsh and draconian".

In its Spending Review last week, the government announced major changes to housing benefit - including cutting it by 10% for the long-term jobless....

...The government is proposing the biggest shake-up in housing in decades - cutting money for new social housing by 50% and allowing housing associations to charge new tenants close to the full market rate for rent...

Ministers plan huge sell off of Britain's forests - Telegraph

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Ministers plan huge sell off of Britain's forests - Telegraph

Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, is expected to announce plans within days to dispose of about half of the 748,000 hectares of woodland overseen by the Forestry Commission by 2020.
The controversial decision will pave the way for a huge expansion in the number of Center Parcs-style holiday villages, golf courses, adventure sites and commercial logging operations throughout Britain as land is sold to private companies.

   Stockwood Pete: Strategic Diversions in the Parks

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Great post that comprehensively trashes the councils policy of flogging off Bristol's green spaces.

Stockwood Pete: Strategic Diversions in the Parks

BBC News - UK needs green economics minister, advisers urge

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BBC News - UK needs green economics minister, advisers urge

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Q and A on the huge green spaces sell off that's backed by Lib Dem, Labour and Tory Cllrs

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Q THERE has been vocal opposition to a quarter of the areas put forward for sale at the very least – is that an acceptable number?

Just added the comment below to this Evening Post article on green space flogging (link above) to correct the errors made by two 'conveniently forgetful' Lib Dem Cllrs...

This statement in the article is incorrect 'The whole point of the strategy, which all parties signed up for..' because the Green Party opposed the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy sell off plans from the very beginning and are still opposing them now.

Cllr Rogers comment 'The Area Green Space Strategy was supported by all three parties on the council' is wrong because there are four parties with councillors in Bristol - and one of them, the Greens, opposes the large scale green space flogging. Cllr Rogers is right to indicate that Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem Parties all backed this extremely unpopular and short-sighted green spaces sell-off.
Update: Just added a further comment (below) because Cllrs Rogers has replied saying, 'There remain only three parties on Bristol City council - the Conservatives, the Lib Dems and the Labour Party.The Green Party do have a councillor on the council, but one person is not regarded as a party! The Green Party councillor did, as Mr Vowles suggests, vote against a proper green space strategy for Bristol.'
Cllr Rogers - its clearly ridiculous and absurd to say that there are three parties on the council. The Greens have an elected Cllr - fact. Because it is one person does not mean the party does not exist it simply means that Green Party GROUP STATUS is not recognised (until there are at least two Cllrs ie next May!). If you were fully open and honest here you would tell the whole truth ie that there is a Cllr representing a party on the council that opposes these green space sell-off plans. The Greens do not recognise the current approach as a proper green spaces strategy because of its flog off plans - and looking at the scale of opposition it appears that Bristol's public agree with us not the Lib Dem, Tory and Labour Cllrs that all endorse it.

Thousands sign petitions to save Hartcliffe and Bishopsworth green spaces

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MORE than 1,000 people have signed a petition demonstrating against the proposed sell off of land in Hartcliffe, and 800 more in Bishopsworth.

...Keith Way lives in Hartcliffe and is concerned about the proposal to sell off two plots of land along Valley Walk, which includes Pigeonhouse Stream.

He said: "We've got a lot of wildlife in south Bristol, I don't think people realise.
"That's a nice quiet park, lots of trees, good for wildlife.
"These sites should never have been put forward in the first place."

Environmental campaigner and former Hartcliffe resident Glenn Vowles has been involved in the petition against this part of the proposals, so far signed by around 120 people.
A petition against the general proposals for Hartcliffe has attracted more than 1,000 more.

Mr Vowles said: "I look at it from a quality of life, health and wellbeing point of view. You need green spaces to provide a decent standard of life.

"People simply don't like the sell off policy. It seems to be a sales target for selling off land.
"Like so many council consultations, most people you talk to have not known about it."...

Friday, October 22, 2010

When Fairness sticks in your throat (Jonathon Porritt)

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When Fairness sticks in your throat (Jonathon Porritt)

...So how does Nick Clegg deal with this? Predictably, he sets out to shoot the messenger, attacking the Institute of Fiscal Studies for getting it all wrong with their “distorted” methodology. “Complete nonsense”, he claims. All very embarrassing when you think that the IFS was one of the Lib Dems’ favourite independent think-tanks before power corrupted their judgement...

£1'stealthy' nuclear submarine...

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Apparently we are in the process of building two more of these
'£1 billion',
nuclear submarines - but with three of them running around [or should that be running aground] instead of one are we three times as likely to experience just how stealthy they really are? Just how justified is our high defence spending?

BBC News - Grounded nuclear sub dragged free

A nuclear-powered submarine which ran aground in shallow waters off the Isle of Skye has been towed free, the Royal Navy has said.
A tug had been carefully pushing along one side of HMS Astute, which got into difficulty a few miles from the Skye road bridge.
Described as the stealthiest ever built in the UK, the £1bn boat was out on sea trials and was not armed....

Poor suffer most from spending review cuts

Deputy PM Nick Clegg is very unwise and unmeasured indeed to launch such an outspoken attack on the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) - using words like 'frightening people' and 'airbrushing' - because it is very widely respected for its expertise, independence and authority. This is not good leadership and in fact both Nick Clegg and Chancellor George Osbourne praised the IFS highly during the summer general election! Take a look at why the IFS regard the spending review as on the whole affecting poorer people more than richer people here. For me it makes very good sense to conclude that the poor will suffer most because they are the ones most reliant on the public services and benefits that have been savagely cut - and even the government's own figures (see image), calculated in their own way, show that the bottom 10% are hit hard. Government attempts at making the cuts 'fair' are far too small.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Countering the cuts myths - Red Pepper

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Excellent piece in Red Pepper: Countering the cuts myths

The government and the press say we are in the grip of a debt crisis caused by the ‘bloated’ public sector. Here, Red Pepper debunks the myths used to push cuts to jobs and public services...

Thanks to Charlie Bolton for pointing me in the direction of this article - its a good read with important information.

Supermarket plans thrown into turmoil

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Its a good decision to refuse Tesco permission for new windows and doors etc as they would have drastically changed the appearance of the former Friendship Inn, with the top and bottom parts of the building also mismatching - but permission should have been refused for the cash machine, condenser and air conditioning units too. Discussions referred to in the report below should include representatives of the local community in broad terms, not just council officers and/or councillors, though I strongly suspect it wont as Tesco have had no such contact right from the start - that's how interested in the local community they are!!

PLANS to turn a former pub into a Tesco Express store have been thrown into turmoil because councillors have refused to give planning permission for a new shopfront.

...Afterwards a planning consultant working for Tesco said the decision was frustrating and there would now be a meeting to discuss the issue, before the company made its next move...

What public spending cuts will mean for you

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JOB losses, service cuts and more expensive public transport are all on the way for the Bristol area as part of the government plan to slash the country's £109 billion deficit

For me yesterdays spending review announcements are a direct assault on most things that involve the concept 'public' - including the general public themselves.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Green view on today's spending review

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Budget to destroy a million jobs

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP has called George Osborne's comprehensive spending review a "budget to destroy a million jobs" - and has again argued that the worst cuts could have been avoided by an alternative policy based on a fairer tax regime.

Caroline Lucas said immediately after the budget statement:

"This is a budget to destroy half a million jobs in the public sector, according to the government's own estimates. And the knock-on effects will be at least as many jobs lost in the private sector."

The Brighton Pavilion MP added:

"When those public sector workers find themselves out of work they will, along with disabled people, feel the full force of the additional £7 billion worth of cuts in welfare spending, on top of the £11 billion of cuts announced in June. The housing benefit regime will become much more harsh, risking a rise in homelessness.

"They will also find that the loss of public services that this budget represents will massively disadvantage them, and all the most vulnerable people in society who rely on those services."

She asked:

"Where's the fairness in a budget that lets vital public services go to the wall, hitting the poorest hardest?"

Britain's first Green Party MP concluded:

"This was a budget of false economies, undermining the economy and hitting the most vulnerable - and all, incredibly, under the banner of fairness."

Green Party | Caroline Lucas MP makes case for nuclear cuts to save essential services

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Green Party Caroline Lucas MP makes case for nuclear cuts to save essential services

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP today published a report identifying well over £100 billion of potential savings from nuclear arms projects and subsidies to the nuclear power industry.

In the report Britain’s first Green MP argues that cancelling the Trident renewal will save over £100 billion, while axing proposed new nuclear power stations will save the UK taxpayer around £8 billion in nuclear waste costs...

The report can be downloaded here:

THOUSANDS of people have signed petitions against the loss of green spaces across this part of the city.

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THOUSANDS of people have signed petitions against the loss of green spaces across this part of the city.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Man ring-fences his beer from spending review cuts...

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Very interesting exercise, easily showing the limits of the governments comparison of the UK budget deficit to a household budget or a person's credit card bill.

BBC News - 'My own personal Spending Review'

...the coalition government has used the comparison with household budgets to make the case for its own cuts....At the Liberal Democrat party conference, Nick Clegg compared the UK to a family which earned £26,000 while spending £32,000 a year on top of £40,000 debts. David Cameron has also described the deficit as "a bit like our credit cards - we all know the longer you leave it, the worse it gets".

Nonetheless, this line of reasoning has its limitations, Malcolm Sawyer, professor of economics at the University of Leeds, says.

He argues that, because about a third of the government's debt is owed to pension funds, repayments are going from one set of taxpayers to another.

"Politicians like to refer to the image of the housewife doing her weekly shopping budget - it's a powerful analogy that's easy to understand," he says.

"But the reality of why governments run up deficits is harder to explain in a soundbite - it's because tax revenues collapsed."...

Aircraft carriers aircraft: alternative use proposed

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This use of aircraft carriers without has apparently been put forward by the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition Govt - obviously the 'greenest government ever' - in order to counter one of our real security threats, climate change. Perhaps it will be followed by flowers in guns instead of bullets, bombers turning into butterflies above our nation....

Capitalist ideology dominates cuts decisions

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Excellent piece by George Monbiot (see quote below). The spending cuts process is dominated by Tory capitalist ideology more than practical necessity. The Lib Dems are backing the Tories to the hilt - so much for Vince Cable's concerns about capitalism (this never did have substance anyway especially given that he is privatising the Royal Mail and backs the establishment of a free market in tuition he is extending capitalism!! More on this issue soon.). » Britain’s Shock Doctrine

...Public bodies whose purpose is to hold corporations to account are being swept away. Public bodies whose purpose is to help boost corporate profits, regardless of the consequences for people and the environment, have sailed through unharmed. What the two lists suggest is that the economic crisis is the disaster the Conservatives have been praying for. The government’s programme of cuts looks like a classic example of disaster capitalism: using a crisis to re-shape the economy in the interests of business....

   Stockwood Pete: Cutting the debt? No, adding to it

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Stockwood Pete: Cutting the debt? No, adding to it

ENERGY Secretary Chris Huhne paved the way for a new power station at Oldbury but shelved plans for a Severn barrage for at least five years.

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I'm glad to hear that the severn barrage has been shelved - its very expensive and in fact would destroy beautiful and valuable estuary ecosystems (pictured) and some land on either side too. [Interesting to read in the story below that my MP Dawn Primarolo thinks the barrage is actually a green idea - she's never understood what green action means].

The pro-nuclear stance of the Govt is wrong however because nuclear leaves an extremely expensive and extremely toxic legacy of nuclear waste for future generations. Its very much the wrong technology choice, with the prospect of large delays and cost overruns too.

While we are so very wasteful and inefficient with our energy use how can we justify building any kind of power station?

ENERGY Secretary Chris Huhne paved the way for a new power station at Oldbury but shelved plans for a Severn barrage for at least five years.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Choices and cuts

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What are the merits of taxation? Are we about to learn of its merits when we hear about the huge cuts in public spending affecting many vital public services? There are choices but to listen to the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition Government one would think not. There's the balance between raising more in taxation vs cutting spending. There's the speed and scale of spending cuts (and tax rises). There are the areas or people to tax more and areas to cut spending on. Already I believe a serious error has been made by not cutting defence spending more, when they are so bad at controlling their costs and getting value for money. And why those child benefit changes that dont take account of the whole of a household's income? Universality for child benefit has very clear advantages. I heard on the local news about Bristol City Council's plans to cut the amount spent on dealing with homelessness by hundreds of thousands - wrong because a roof over your head is a basic need and also counterproductive in my view because this spending helps people to become settled, working, productive, tax paying people who might otherwise be a big cost society in many ways.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

BBC News - Biodiversity - a kind of washing powder?

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Excellent articles by Jonathon Porritt, Kate Rawles, Prof Jonathan Baillie and Chris Knight here

BBC News - Biodiversity - a kind of washing powder?

Despite awareness of biodiversity increasing, some people still think it is a washing powder.

When 2010 was named as the "year of biodiversity" by the UN, it began with a plea to save the world's ecosystems.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "Biological diversity underpins ecosystem functioning... its continued loss, therefore, has major implications for current and future human well-being."...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Green Party | “Free market in tuition fees can only increase inequality” – Green Party leader

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Green Party “Free market in tuition fees can only increase inequality” – Green Party leader

Responding to Lord Browne’s report on university funding, Britain’s first Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said:
“The Browne review is simply a bid to shift the cost of education away from the state and onto the student.
"It will mean our public degrees will be among the most costly in the world. Many people will be priced out of going to university. A free market in tuition fees can only increase inequality.”
The Greens said the Browne review’s findings were “not appropriate for a country that values social mobility and inclusiveness.”

Climate Change Denial » UP IN LIGHTS

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Another great post from George Marshall - this time pointing out the inconsistencies and contradictions in the campaigns of some environmental groups.

Climate Change Denial » UP IN LIGHTS

Friday, October 15, 2010

UK 'short of environmental skills' - Green Living, Environment - The Independent

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UK 'short of environmental skills' - Green Living, Environment - The Independent

Britain could run short of people able to tackle urgent environmental challenges within the next 10 years unless skills gaps are plugged, a report warned today.
It identified 15 critical skills in short supply, including numeracy, computer modelling and conducting field research, as well as skills such as translating complex research into plain language.
Unless the shortfall is filled, Britain will find it harder to solve pressing issues such as environmental risks to human health, safe carbon capture and developing new energy sources, it added...

Water Words

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Pairs of words that sum up a lot of water issues: life’s essential; renewable...potentially; community rooting; unevenly distributed; wasted widely; polluted commonly; rich, 100’s l; poor 10’s l; piped...UK; carried...Africa; city...leaks; extremely useful; farming, mostly; cooling, cleansing; ‘universal’ solvent; reservoirs, dams; socio-environmental havoc; community uprooting; climate changing; needs...wants; conflict prevention; modest measures; efficiency, accessibility; massive benefits!

Water footprints and the Living Planet Report 2010

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WWF's Living Planet Report 2010 has some vitally important things to say about our planet not least our use and abuse of water...Lets not foregt the huge amounts of water embedded in the vast quantity of material and goods exported all over the globe - including from countries whose people struggle to get enough water for basics.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wealth: water or diamonds? What is worth more to the thirsty and hungry?

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Ed Miliband drew on the well known Oscar Wilde quote ‘What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.’ in his first conference speech as Labour leader. Strange coming from a man who directly equates ever increasing money flow through our economy (GDP growth) with progress and wellbeing. Ed, along with Tory David Cameron and Lib Dem Nick Clegg, supports and advocates a corrupted notion of wealth which is narrow, materialist and cash-value centred.

Wealth creation has come to mean the stockpiling of affluence, running down finite natural resources, wasting and mismanaging potentially renewable resources like water such that many people around the globe struggle even to get enough to drink and wash. What is worth more to the thirsty and hungry – water or diamonds?

‘Value’ is largely what can be bought and sold if you have Ed’s (and Dave’s and Nick’s) view. The rich continue to hoard, deny the poor, and build for their leisure, recreation and luxury. The poorest around the globe continue to be unable to meet their basic needs such as decent public clean water supply and healthy sewage disposal systems. In fact the rich (and relatively speaking that’s most of us living in the Western hemisphere) are rich precisely because others are poor – GDP growth, Ed’s, Dave’s and Nick’s primary focus, has been very large over many decades and in many countries but numbers unable to meet basic needs are also very high!

We are GDP growing out of proportion to the proper, healthy working of life support systems. These systems include: those that can continually supply rainwater; those that keep our climate in a reasonably stable balance; those that process our soils, keeping them productive; many that keep ecosystems in a diverse state. Furthermore, we are sapping the energies and threatening the existence of the whole interconnected water, air, soil and biodiversity system – yet this is the source of our resources and the basis of our lives and thus is our true wealth.

We are also GDP growing out of proportion to the healthy working of socio-economic systems. Acting on the notion of wealth creation as increasing money flow through our economy has resulted in relatively small numbers of individuals and institutions with inordinate, concentrated cash and property. This inequality and unfairness decreases quality of life and as time passes is increasingly destabilising. Very strange, then, that Ed – and Dave and Nick – talk so much about building a fair society.

To benefit people and planet, GDP growth needs to pass tests of: efficiency; renewability; respecting environmental limits; building stronger local communities; meeting needs now and in the future; local and global fairness; health, wellbeing and quality of life. This means taking a very different view of wealth.

For more on water and related issues see:

Oxfam 'Sow the Seed' of hope event on College Green

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Bristol political leaders join top chef to urge action on climate change Oxfam South West stages event at College Green to call on world leaders to ‘Sow the Seed’ of hope

Political leaders from across the political spectrum in Bristol were joined by one of the city’s top chefs at College Green this morning, to urge more action from world leaders on climate change.
Council leader Barbara Janke, deputy Labour leader Mark Bradshaw, Green Party Councillor Tess Green and Liberal Democrat councillor Anthony Negus said they were delighted to support Oxfam South West’s ‘Sow the Seed’ campaign.

Meanwhile, one of Bristol’s finest and most respected chefs – Chris Wicks, from Bells Diner in Montpelier, which has just been named as one of Britain’s top 100 restaurants – came along in his chef’s outfit to back the campaign.

More than 100 ‘Sow the Seed’ labels were planted in the ground outside the Council House, bearing Oxfam’s call for the international community to help farmers in the world’s poorest countries deal with the devastating effects of climate change.

Speaking at the event, Barbara Janke said: “Speaking as someone from Bristol in the center of a major food-growing area, we are more sympathetic than most to the effects of climate change on farmers in the developing world.

“We’ve seen in Pakistan floods the most recent dramatic effect of extreme weather, but this is clearly affecting people around the world, where climate change is already affecting food production and their ability to be self-sufficient.

“We need to address climate change as a global problem and raise awareness of how important this is.”

The event is part of a global week of campaign events that aim to highlight the devastating effects of climate change on food production in the world’s poorest areas.

In Pakistan, for example, up to 40 per cent of households in the flood-affected areas lost all food stocks. Fodder for livestock has also been lost, so even families who have been able to save some of their animals are struggling to keep them alive.

Mark Bradshaw said he was delighted the campaign was happening in Bristol and that the effects of climate change were something that we “cannot ignore”.

He also called for the introduction of a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on banks to pay for the world’s poor to adapt to and survive climate change.

“In the current tough economic times it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the climate change agenda. Now more than ever do we need to invest in tackling it.

“That’s why it’s so important to introduce a Robin Hood Tax so that the financial industry pays its full contribution to addressing climate change.

Chris Wicks, whose restaurant – a fixture in Montpelier for more than 20 years – prides itself on using locally sourced produce, added: “In my restaurant it is important for us to do our bit by using local products to cut down food miles. But it is essential that we help poor farmers develop their own industries.”


For press information contact: Christopher Brown at Oxfam South West on 0117 916 6474 or 07887 632 658 or

Notes to editors: The Sow the Seed event at College Green is part of a series of events around the world during the week, highlighting the strength of the campaign to fight climate change. See:

Picture caption: Back row, from left: Cllr Anthony Negus, Chris Wicks and Barbara Janke. Front row, from left, Mark Bradshaw and Tess Green

Oxfam works with others to overcome poverty and suffering
Oxfam GB is a member of Oxfam International and a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 612172.Registered office: Oxfam House, John Smith Drive, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2JY.A registered charity in England and Wales (no 202918) and Scotland (SC 039042)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 » The Values of Everything

No comments: » The Values of Everything

...People with strong intrinsic values must cease to be embarrassed by them. We should argue for the policies we want not on the grounds of expediency but on the grounds that they are empathetic and kind; and against others on the grounds that they are selfish and cruel. In asserting our values we become the change we want to see.

Well worth reading the whole of this article - and spreading its details around.

The Daily (Maybe): 17 MPs vote for a chance for real change.

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The Daily (Maybe): 17 MPs vote for a chance for real change.

Yesterday Parliament voted on whether to allow the people to decide on what kind of electoral reform they should go for. The majority of MPs decided to deny people the opportunity to opt for PR and instead instead that the only acceptable change was the dismal AV.

Not a single Lib Dem MP voted for this amendment, moved by the Greens leader Caroline Lucas MP, even though they say they are for PR!! Good on the Green and those Tory, SNP, SDLP, Labour, PC and Alliance MPs who voted for giving people the choice of which electoral system.

Ashton Vale stadium: 'MPs call for Councillors to commit unlawful acts'

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Some very interesting comments on this post from the Ashton Gate Blogger. For example:

The MPs have written a letter calling on councillors to reject the Town Green Application so as to bring about a football stadium on the land for the benefit of the club and others.
Under the Commons Act 2006, the future use of and aims for the land cannot be taken into account.
By calling for the Councillors to do so, the MPs are asking them to commit “Misfeasance in Public Office”. This is where a public official acts knowing that he has no power to do the act complained of – causing detriment to the legal rights of some, for the benefit (commercial or otherwise) of others.
What a bizarre world we now live in where MPs call for Councillors to commit unlawful acts so as to overide the legal rights that have been given to local people by those very MPs only 4 years ago

says Harry T....rightly in my view.

And following on from this Still Waters says...

Just out of interest, does this act of inciting Misfeasance in Public Office toward BCC come under Misconduct in Public Office for the MPs? Maybe their Chief Whips should be nudged?

“there is often an additional offence that can be committed where someone ‘attempts, conspires, aids or abets, counsels or procures’ another offence. The problem with attempting to prosecute someone for such an additional offence is that the intent needed to be proved is both for the alleged attempt, conspiracy, aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring’ the first offence, but also the intent to commit the original offence.”
I think a bloody great big article in a newsrag is ‘proof enough’…

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Green Party | Video - Response To Tory [and Lib Dem] Cuts

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I'd add to the title that these are also Liberal Democrat cuts given that they are in coalition with the Tories...and we should remember that Labour under new leader Ed Miliband have committed themselves to something fairly similar to Alistair Darlings program of cuts.

Green Party Video - Response To Tory Cuts

In this video, Darren Johnson, Green Party member on the London Assembly, speaks out against the cuts announced at the Conservative Party conference.
Darren warns that the cuts planned by the coalition government will only damage the economy.
He also proposes an alternative way forward - as Caroline Lucas has raised in the House of Commons - aimed at taxing the wealthy and cutting programmes like Trident, rather than hitting the poor and the public sector....

Friday, October 08, 2010

Bristol's football and rugby clubs sharing one good, new stadium: eminent good sense

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Letter from todays Evening Post that I agree strongly with:

I HAD a nightmare last night. I woke up in a sweat realising that I had definitely lost the plot. Was I going mad? I had dreamt that the directors of Bristol City, Bristol Rovers and Bristol Rugby actually got together around the same table – and discussed how one, state of the art stadium could be built to house one united Bristol City football club and Bristol Rugby. How wild was that?

The plans even included an athletics track, indoor sporting facilities etc that could rival other major cities. I simply had to wake up from this crazy nightmare.

Surely we are never going to achieve Premiership football status with two mediocre teams, or a Premiership rugby side with a struggling first division side. We do need creative thinking, vision, financial investment and a team of enthusiastic 'drivers' who could perhaps make my nightmare a reality.

It will never happen if things remain as they are and the City shows no ambition. My dream stadium was going to be built somewhere along the M4 / M5 corridor which has good connections to motorways and rail links whilst away from residential areas.

Thank goodness I woke up then and realised that I was having a really mad crazy idea, and that, thank goodness, it was only a dream. We must carry on here in Bristol with second best, of course.


BRISTOL City chairman Steve Lansdown raised £58 million yesterday by selling off shares in the stockbroker firm he helped to found.

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Lansdown: now not living in the UK let alone Bristol or the West Country; now avoiding paying taxes here but clearly has made and is making shed loads of cash here....does he sound like someone committed to this country and this city to you?? Maybe someone would like to make the case for this man ??

BRISTOL City chairman Steve Lansdown raised £58 million yesterday by selling off shares in the stockbroker firm he helped to found.

Mr Lansdown – who has a personal fortune of £452m – recently bought a house on Guernsey and is now living full-time in the tax-free Channel haven.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Cameron's speech: little/nothing green

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Some very perceptive comments on the Prime Minister's speech here - especially from George Monbiot (see extract below):

Cameron's speech: Guardian columnists' verdict Comment is free

So that's it, is it? Twenty-five words; 0.4% of the speech in which the leader of the "greenest government ever" lays out his vision for Britain. Here they are: "more green", "a new green investment bank, so the technologies of the future are developed, jobs created and our environment protected", and "carbon capture and storage". That, dear reader, is your lot. Even when Cameron recited a long list of his government's achievements, there wasn't a word about the environment.

That's not surprising, for its achievements to date are hard to detect.

A HOMEOWNER who faces the prospect of seeing his house demolished as part of a massive makeover for Knowle West has vowed to save it from the bulldozer.

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Such is the determination and efficiency of Bristol City Council to fully involve people in decision making about the future of their homes and community that this poor chap didn't know about the plans, which include possible demolition, until this July! In fact the council are frustrating the attempts of locals to participate and manipulating meetings and events to favour the development plans that they have favoured since the start.

A HOMEOWNER who faces the prospect of seeing his house demolished as part of a massive makeover for Knowle West has vowed to save it from the bulldozer.

Germany's Greens second most popular party - The Irish Times - Thu, Oct 07, 2010

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Germany's Greens second most popular party - The Irish Times - Thu, Oct 07, 2010

GERMANY’S GREEN Party has nosed ahead of the Social Democrats (SPD) in an opinion poll for the first time to become the country’s second most popular political party.
Some 30 years after emerging from Germany’s anti-nuclear, environmentalist and pacifist movements, the party has soared to 24 per cent support in the Forsa poll, published this morning in Stern magazine.
The SPD, with whom the Greens shared power for seven years until 2005, has slipped to just 23 per cent.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Knowle West residents own regeneration plans are best

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Excellent work being done by residents in Knowle, well supported by groups like the Neighbourhood Planning Network, Bristol Civic Society and others. I was involved with them for several months, up to this spring (general and local elections then took me over) and put forward a range of sustainable devlopment ideas to the council and the consultants they employed. More on the Knowle West regeneration issue shortly.

RESIDENTS in Inns Court have spoken out against plans to demolish their homes and rebuild the estate as part of a massive regeneration project for Knowle West.

Also see this coverage from yesterday:

Monday, October 04, 2010

Editor-At-Large: These costly games are all about ego and do nothing for sport - Janet Street-Porter, Columnists - The Independent

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Editor-At-Large: These costly games are all about ego and do nothing for sport - Janet Street-Porter, Columnists - The Independent

The Daily (Maybe): The problem with the games

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The Daily (Maybe): The problem with the games

It seems that every major international sporting event has to have an accompanying hoo ha about chalets without toilets, stadiums without tracks or sites that are essentially just a pile of sand. Of course the London Olympic Games will be different, but all the other events - they're always beset by problems.However, the real tragedies of these events aren't the escalating costs but the trampling of rights and social justice that takes place. While much has been made of India's inability to put together a decent athlete's village for the Common Wealth Games, much less has been made of the social cost to the surrounding population.

The latest biased and ridiculous rubbish on the Ashton Vale stadium

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BRISTOL could reap the benefits of hosting events like the Ryder Cup if the Ashton Vale stadium goes ahead, golfer Chris Wood said last night.

Er...but we dont have a decent golf course...or is that the next thing they will try to build on green belt land?? Or perhaps the whole event would be scaled down and staged on a mini golf course inside the new Bristol City stadium?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

BBC News - Spending review

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BBC News - Spending review

Very interesting part of the BBC website which I may well come back to from time to time. Has a lot of specific, up to date coverage of spending review matters and lots of links to further detail and debate. Has an interesting page here asking people what they would cut and by how much - but it does not give people the option of raising additional money to lessen and/or slow down cuts, through eg tax rises, improving efficiency and effectiveness of tax collection and so on.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Climate Change Denial » Collapse Porn?

Interesting view George Marshall has here - I have a lot of time for his approach...

Climate Change Denial » Collapse Porn?

A movie that is now being launched in the UK called Collapse shows Michael Ruppert chainsmoking his way through visions of social and economic disaster. It is symptomic of the utterly self defeating way that peak oil and climate change are typically communicated

Friday, October 01, 2010

Ashton Vale Heritage - please sign the petition to protect it for future generations

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Ashton Vale Heritage - Home

Ashton Vale is a small community on the edge of South Bristol. With charming wide open spaces and land protected by Green Belt Policy, local people have valued these fields, woods and the beautiful Colliters Brook that surround Ashton Vale for generations. A walkers, joggers and children's paradise, mostly flat, you can amble along public footpaths, wander through open countryside, sit by the babbling brook and picnic with friends and families. Yet amazingly this unique area is just minutes from Bristol City Centre.

Please sign the petition to protect this green space for future generations:

Ashton Vale Wildlife

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This web site is dedicated to Birds and Wildlife in a small area of south Bristol called Ashton Vale, which includes the site of the proposed new Bristol City FC stadium development.The site runs parallel with the A370 in the North,and the A38 in the South. The Boundary in the West is Yanley lane which runs from Long Ashton through to the A38.Down the middle runs the Bristol to Plymouth railway line. On the A38 side the fields are on quite a gradient leading up to Bedminster down.There is a large landfill site owned by Veridor and this is next to Hanging Hill wood.Colliters brook runs through both sites and holds a host of wild life.On the A370 side the fields are flat and used for agriculture,when the harvest is collected lots of birds feed on the spilled grain.Walking in a westerly direction from the Long Ashton park and ride you will come up on a small copse known by the locals as the Plantation.Also part of the area is the Long Ashton cricket pitch which is situated near to Yanley lane.The fields near to the cricket pitch some times hold a few Roe deer although poaching has hit them really hard in the last few years.There are four small ponds around the edges of the landfill site, and most hold a number of dragonflies and damselflies.In the spring many migrant birds stop off at the site, in recent years Redstart, Nightingales, have been recorded. Buzzards,Tawny owls, and Little owls are all resident and during the summer many Warblers nest, Green and Great spotted woodpeckers breed and the song of the Skylark can be heard above the landfill site where it has bred.

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